In a few short days, I’ll be turning 33 years old. This may not seem like a significant age to most, but it feels quite momentous to me.
Taylor Marshall has a great little post about why 33 is the perfect age. I had been thinking about this for sometime beforehand, and so his post was a nice confirmation that I wasn’t just putting my own significance on this age. The most interesting (to me) of the facts he presents is that, according to the visions of Mary Agreda, 33 is how old St. Joseph was when he married the Blessed Virgin Mary. I’ve had a special affinity for St. Joseph for the last several years, and it feels special to enter an age that was obviously very significant for that humble and important saint. This was the age that he was entrusted with the most precious and sacred of gifts. It makes sense that St. Joseph would have been at a prime age when he was given the care of Mary and Jesus, especially as they were forced to flee to Egypt, a long and dangerous road, and then live in exile for a number of years before it was safe to return to Nazareth. The first few years of the Christ Child’s life would have been filled with danger and hardship, and it was St. Joseph who was responsible for His and His mother’s welfare and protection. And apparently 33 is the age that he was deemed ready for this responsibility. (Yes, I know there is a lot of debate about the age of St. Joseph, but I’ll take the word of the mystic Mary Agreda, and it also just makes sense to me.)
Of course, it was also at the age of 33 that Christ Himself was crucified and resurrected, fulfilling His mission on earth. He had spent just three short years preaching and teaching his disciples, the narrative of the Gospels only picking up when he was 30 years old and was baptized by St. John the Baptist, thus launching his public ministry. God can order all things to His divine plan, and where Christ is concerned this is especially true, so I must believe that these ages have significance.
At the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, when Bilbo has his long-expected birthday party, it is also a significant birthday for Frodo, as well. Frodo is turning 33, which we are told by the author is an important number, his “coming of age”. Tolkien was a devout Catholic, and was even under the guardianship of a priest after his mother died when he was 12; he would have known the Gospel significance of that age. Throughout The Lord of the Rings, significant dates are given that correlate to the Gospels. For example, Frodo finally destroys the One Ring, vanquishing that evil for all time, on March 25. In the Catholic Church, this is the date we celebrate The Annunciation, when the Virgin Mary agreed to become the mother of God and Christ became incarnate. Tolkien loved his details.
I was incredibly excited when I turned 30. My 20s had not been an easy period of my life and I was ready to welcome the next stage. Now, I feel much more settled, more secure in who I am, what I want, and, more importantly, what I have to offer others.
We are all born with inherent gifts, talents, and temperaments, but we still get to choose what we do with these. I feel that’s what I have spent the last several years doing: making choices about who I want to be and how I want to live my life. I guess I am a bit rebellious by nature, so it hasn’t been too difficult for me to break with cultural norms and find my own path instead. Deleting my social accounts, developing better food habits, cultivating simplicity and a gratitude-filled life; I feel as if I am finally, really, becoming a person that I can be proud of. I couldn’t even envision this person a few years ago, but it’s even more satisfying to know that I have made conscious, intentional steps to become her. God made each one of us unique, with certain strengths and weaknesses, but He also gave each one of us free will, to either use or abuse those strengths and weaknesses. And so, while I am learning and discerning how to follow God’s will in my life, I am also aware that every day is a choice about how I want to live and no one can make that choice but me.
As I get ready to turn 33, it really does feel like a coming-of-age. But not the blind step into adulthood that so many of us experience as adolescents; I can see the path ahead and I am intentionally stepping on to it.